Are you trying to escape me?

Recently, I had coffee with someone I had met at a conference. We agreed to meet at 2:00 and I had a client meeting at 3:30. I knew I would have to leave at 3:00 to have enough time to get to the client’s office. I thought about saying something to her at the beginning of the meeting, but I got caught up in the greeting and getting coffee and forgot to tell her.

We were having a nice conversation when I looked down at my watch and noticed it was 2:55. I told her I had to get going because of a client meeting. She looked a bit hurt, or maybe I just perceived it that way. It did feel a bit abrupt. It had taken a while to get my coffee, so in all it didn’t feel like we had much time to chat.

As I drove to my client’s office I realized she may have perceived that I wasn’t enjoying our connection and I came up with an excuse to leave abruptly. Of course, this wasn’t the case. I was happy with our discussion. But I made the mistake of not telling her when I first sat down that I had to leave at a certain time so it may have looked like I wasn’t enjoying the chat.

Next time I will state how much time I have for the meeting when we first meet. When I mentioned my faux pas on my Facebook page, one of my Facebook fans mentioned that she always asks the person she’s meeting with how much time they have to meet. I think this is very gracious if you call the meeting.

How about you? Have you ever had someone seemingly end a meeting abruptly? How did you perceive it? Have you done this to others?

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Beth Buelow, ACC, The Introvert Entrepreneur on June 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I love that you wrote about this, Arden. While I can’t remember specific instances, I’m sure I’ve made an abrupt exit or been abruptly exited on… it happens, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken it personally.

    I really like the suggestion of asking your companion how much time s/he has. Another thing I have started doing, esp. if I have a specific time I need to stop, is to put my phone on the table and tell the other person “I’m setting an alarm for XX:XX, so that I know when I only have about 10 minutes before I need to leave for my next appointment. That way, I can focus on our conversation rather than clock watching.”

    Of course, I can also offer to set the alarm to reflect the time my coffee companion has to go.

    While having a phone on the table might be perceived as impolite, so is clock watching! And I think as long as all sounds are off save the alarm, it’s a great tool for being fully present for the conversation while still making sure you end – graciously – on time.

  2. Arden Clise on June 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts Beth. I love the idea of using a timer as long as you make it clear what it’s for, as you suggest. Is it possible to have it sound the alarm and be heard if it’s not on the table? I prefer not to have phones on the table at all. They’re too tempting to ignore.

    Having a time does let you stay present. I know I always feel rude looking at my watch.

    Thanks for a great suggestion!

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